Garden Church

Sometimes life is messy, loud, painful, confusing, and chaotic. Sometimes, it is none of those things and just simply beautiful. Taking a pause, to find the beauty is a gift we all have but sometimes we fail to untie the bow and peek at what’s inside.

My husband and I have a gardening hobby, and each year we can hardly wait for the Easter time stamp, to start planting into our blank canvas that has been sitting empty all winter. We have a large flower bed area around the pool, and there is a whimsical feeling when it’s all in bloom. Hearing the pool water splash as it wets the rocks, feeling the sun bright in my eyes and warm on my skin, seeing the wall of greenery move with the wind, is truly a slice of Heaven. We’ve watched the sun rise on this oasis and watched it fall again at Sunset Hill while dancing in the gravel under a cotton candy sky. These moments are the marrow in my life. This morning, I was in awe of the flower garden, and God spoke to me through this beautiful mass of foliage.

We plant these flowers as tiny babies, just a little wound-up ball of roots, soil, leaves, and maybe one bloom. Itty bitty chunks of nothing, but with such massive potential. We nurture them and watch them grow. It gets hot, we get busy, they get ignored, but we know they are still there and still growing. This morning, as God spoke to me through this oasis, I was filled with gratitude and walked away from Garden Church with a renewed soul.

The definition of a weed is “a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants”. As I looked at this unique sprig of greenery that had popped up between random mounds of color, I knew I needed to remove it because it was a “weed” and would create disorder in our masterpiece, or that’s what the experts say. I quickly disagreed. It was beautiful, and I decided it would not be a weed, because now it is wanted. No competition here. It found the perfect space to come alive, and peek into a place it would never be normally welcome. It brings a different texture to the garden and even has tiny white clusters of blooms. It drapes ever so perfectly over the neighbor it encroached upon, and it is thriving. It will stay here for all its life because I like it and I want it here. Lord, please always show me to love those who may seem unlovable and remind me they have purpose and a place here. Please always let me be brave and show up in places that may not always feel welcoming.

Glancing across our perfectly, methodically placed plantings, I notice the ones who volunteered to come back this year, in the same place they had been last year. These are not ones that are expected to come back, nor were they invited back – They were not part of our plan this season. These are annuals which mean they live for one season only. Seeds were thriving in the soil all winter and came back to life in a season where they did not belong. These volunteer flowers have the thickest stalks, greenest leaves, and are thriving today, when we thought their life was over. Lord, please always give me strength when I feel hopeless. Thank you for allowing us to bloom where we’re planted, even during chaos and fear of feeling unwanted and unloved. We belong where you lead us.

Looking down past the volunteers are the mounding flowers which I love. I cannot comprehend how each stem grows individually and over time they create a sphere of blooms, as if they had been trimmed and carefully groomed to grow at a perfect pace and length, creating this rounded mass. When the mound gets too big, it becomes heavy and falls over creating an empty space inside of the mound that looks dead, ugly, and empty inside. When the mound falls over, it does not end there. The split mound starts to bloom from inside the gaping hole and a new mound comes to life, in the same spot that once was dead, ugly, and empty – It’s now filled with delicate new shoots of color and will soon fill the space that we thought was broken. Lord, when I fall, I am thankful my story is not over there. With grace, you turn death to beauty during times we thought our brokenness was the end of our story, but only You know it does not end there.

The next lesson came from noticing the different needs of each gem. In Texas, of course we favor drought tolerant plants. We plant in the spring and are a little disappointed when these careful selections don’t thrive like we know they are capable of. We know what to expect – Lavish blankets of bold color that take the heat like a champ, but where is this brilliance we know to expect? Spring ends, the temperatures rise – and now, it’s go time. They bust out of their pods and turn into unstoppable superstars, that will own the stage from now until the first freeze. These gems also don’t like a lot of water. Perhaps they can’t endure their mission if they’re too heavy. Lord, thank you for knowing my seasons of growth and guiding me there in a perfectly orchestrated timeline, step by step. You also know when I’m thirsty for truth, and when I need to rest in a place of dryness, as you prep me to walk out of the valley to stand atop a mountain.

As the burden of heat continues to weigh down on this glorious creation, some of the gems don’t survive the battle. They put up a good fight, but their time is up. Once carefully removed from their once home, a clean and empty space is revealed, a new beginning. The newbie clump of potential arrives with hopes to become part of the show. Soon, a new, fresh look comes to life where death once sat. The space is no longer empty, and it lives once again. Lord, thank you for filling emptiness with hope and life at just the right time. You bring us to our knees so that we can rise and fill spaces with purpose and order, for your Kingdom.

Garden church continues and the bees make an appearance. Without them, this creation would not exist. These tiny critters have a bad reputation, it’s too bad only a painful sting comes to mind. Actually, they are the life line behind this portrait. They keep on working and completing their job, even though most people fear them and run away. Lord, please always remind me that you are the only judge and we are all your people. Even clothed in a weary cloth, a light lives inside all of us who know your name, and our works are to be your hands and feet.

The gems have been planted for several months now, and the roots have become lengthened, strong, hearty and healthy. We treat the soil with nutrients to encourage this growth in the roots, so that the plants can perform their best and live out the season to the fullest. Last week, as I was making a selection to fill an empty space, I brought home a heat tolerant plant and filled the gap. Of course it was an itty bitty coming straight from the nursery shelf, like all the others had in the spring. I planted it next to it’s elders, and sadly over the next couple of days it’s life was over. The roots were not strong enough to handle the heat combat. It turned into a crisp chip, and never even had a chance. Roots are a precious commodity and need to be strong before facing a time of despair. Lord, please always give me a strong foothold, to face giants and fight battles with your truth planted deep in my roots. I would dry up into dust without your cultivating.

The final takeaway from Garden Church, came in perfect time, like closing the hymnbook, and hearing the choir harmonizing to the highest note. The garden, composed all of different species, needs, colors, tolerances, growth speeds, bloom times and life cycles – They all share the same soil and thrive together in one space. They are careful to encroach on and around each other, stretch out where there is space and lay down on others when they feel heavy. Some lift each other up and others cover to protect their neighbor. They grow into each other like a puzzle we designed in the spring, without even knowing how perfectly it would fit together, bloom by bloom. It was created from seeds planted long ago. With cultivation, hope and wisdom, it has become the greatest gift and taught me a lot about this one life we’re given, and church finishes up without a word ever spoken. Lord, thank you for Garden Church.

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